Aéroports de Montréal resumes its flight with the return of travelers

(Montreal) All the indicators of the Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) are up after two years of misery.

Posted at 1:47 p.m

Pierre Saint Arnaud
The Canadian Press

Announcing its first quarter 2022 results on Thursday, ADM reported a 414% increase in passenger numbers compared to the first quarter of 2021 to a total of 2.2 million passengers in the first three months of the year.

For the month of March alone, the increase reached 823% compared to March 2021, ie just over a million passengers, which is almost 60% of the number of passengers in March 2019, the reference year before the pandemic.

“Today the signs of recovery are united. The health situation, despite its fluctuations, seems to remain under control. People want to travel,” said Danielle Laberge, CEO of ADM.

Vengeance of the Travelers

This sudden influx, fueled by the lifting of numerous health measures, is part of the global revenge travel movement. It was ADM President and CEO Philippe Rainville who mentioned this phrase, which refers to the rush of travelers frustrated at not being able to fly away during the pandemic.

“People want to turn their noses up at the pandemic by taking a short vacation. We are very excited to welcome travelers and provide them with this form of deliverance,” said Mr. Rainville with a smile, adding that the Easter period in particular has been very strong.

Mr Rainville says he expects a return to 2019 levels from 2024 but does not rule out that return could occur as early as 2023 if the phenomenon persists and is accompanied by a resumption of travel. Although Dorval Airport is primarily a tourist airport, business travel still accounts for 25% to 30% of traffic and recovery on that side remains uncertain, according to Mr Rainville.

REM: Shift of schedule

ADM’s “very precarious” financial situation has thus led to many investment projects being postponed and revised and the REM airport station not being able to go into operation at the end of 2024 as originally planned. A new timetable is to be presented in the autumn.

But there is no question of withdrawing, said Philippe Rainville: “We absolutely wanted the REM Montréal-Trudeau station. We really wanted it. A fast, traffic-free connection to the international airport is essential for a modern metropolis. »

However, Mr. Rainville specified that he had to repeatedly remind the authorities that it would be impossible for him to build the 600 million station without financial help. The public sector has heard the call and will contribute $500 million in grants ($100 million from the federal government) and subordinated loans ($100 million from Investissement Québec and $300 million from Canada Infrastructure Bank). .

In addition, the project had to be completely revised in order to stay on budget and at the same time take into account the strong inflationary pressures. “We worked with local architects and renowned engineers to maximize the design of the station to minimize the risks of the site and contain costs, while leaving behind a high-quality architecture,” he affirmed.

Mirabel rescued from the pandemic

It should be noted that the volume of cargo passing through ADM’s other constituent, Mirabel Airport, in 2021 exceeded that of 2019 after having slightly decreased in 2020, an increase directly attributable to the coronavirus.

“The pandemic will have been a moment for YMX (Mirabel) to solidify its role as a freight hub, the CEO said. YMX was where many shipments of vaccines and medical equipment came in. »

This recovery obviously doesn’t erase the disastrous results of 2020 and 2021. Mr. Rainville recalled that Montreal International Airport has been designated as one of four Canadian airports to remain operational for international flights. With a nearly 75% drop in the number of travelers in 2021 compared to 2019 and the obligation to maintain all services, ADM faced “almost twice the expenses as income,” he argues.

“Even if we stop everything we can stop, we still have almost half a billion in spending. We even donated the 140 plants in our offices to help reduce household expenses. They went to beautify a palliative care home in Kirkland,” said Philippe Rainville.

Profit increase by 423%

As for financial results for the first quarter of 2022, earnings before income taxes, finance costs, depreciation and amortization and share of earnings from a joint venture (EBITDA) were 35 million, an increase of 45.8 million or 423% compared to the loss from 10.8 million for the same period last year.

Consolidated revenue for the first three months of 2022 was 102.8 million, an increase of 63.7 million or 163.0% year-on-year, an increase directly attributable to the recovery in passenger traffic. Operating expenses reached 47 million, an increase of 10.2 million or 27.7% compared to the same quarter of 2021, mainly due to the increase in passenger service fees, also caused by the return of travelers.

Ginette Maillé, ADM’s chief financial officer, also stated that Ottawa did not extend the $21 million in rental leave granted from March to December 2020 in 2021, “which means we are committing an amount in this second year of the crisis have to pay 25 million to Transport Canada as rent. Instead, as a relief measure, the government proposed that it should be paid to him in 10 equal installments over 10 years. »

ADM’s net debt was $2.43 billion as of March 31, 2022 compared to $2.45 billion as of December 31, 2021.

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